Nobody ever asked my birthday

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Harry was feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to leave the infirmary. That was the only good thing he could say about the place-Pomphrey always made sure he got a good night's sleep.

Come to think of it, he wouldn't have minded the infirmary, much, if he'd been allowed out of bed.

Now that he was headed down to Potions class, Harry had time to worry - everyone must think me a colossal stick-up-my-arse prick. Who manages to get themselves hurt breaking the rules? And not in a very entertaining way, either? (Harry was certain the Weasley Twins had broken a rule or two that bit back, and they'd had the scars to prove it.)

Harry needn't have worried - Potions class was the exact same as it always was. The Slytherins still snickered at Harry Potter, but they always did that. Neville committed atrocities against the laws of timing and good sense - or whatever curious admixture of talents makes a true Potions Master, and tried to evacuate the room with something that smelled dangerously like Chlorine. Impressive, when the assignment was Potions and not Chemistry.

Neville got detention for that, of course. Harry found himself mildly surprised that Neville managed to get so few detentions. Harry'd have thought Snape would find an Abomination against the Laws of Magic to be something worth minding.

At least more than Just Harry.

Harry supposed that Snape was the kind of rule-following person who took Personal Offense to other people breaking rules.*

For once, Harry managed to not be in danger of destroying the classroom. His potion was about middling good - which was still far better than he generally did!

When Snape took the potions for grading, Harry could feel Snape's eyes on him, dissecting and remaking in the same look.

Snape assigned homework, as Snape always did. Harry hadn't realized there was anything wrong with Potions class, until Hermione took too long with her books. She was clearly trying to let everyone else clear out for the Great Hall and the wonders of Lunch.

Harry was curious, so he delayed leaving by fumbling with his books.

Hermione noticed he was there, but didn't seem to care. This was the sort of issue that could be shared with friends, apparently. Maybe he already knew about the issue, actually...

Snape regarded Hermione with a cool, assessing gaze. He didn't seem to even want to acknowledge that she was there to ask him a question. The ball was in her court, and he was making certain she was completely aware of it.

"I was hoping you would give me some answers, Professor Snape." Hermione Granger said, putting her hands behind her back (so that Snape wouldn't see them fidgeting.)

"If you'll give me a reason to give you some answers, you might find your hopes fulfilled." Snape said.

"The phrase is: 'Sleep is for the weak,' Professor Snape." Hermione Granger began.

"A simplistic falsehood, luring credulous fools into misbehavior." Snape spat.

"Professor Snape, I will take your rounds, when you deem fit. This will not affect my studies or my extra-curriculars." Hermione bargained.

"And in return?" Snape asked. Harry thought he was sounding so disinterested that Snape might as well have been buffing his nails.

"You will answer my questions pertaining Houses and Marriage in the Magical world, in private." Hermione Granger said, "Professor Snape."

"Does your compatriot Potter serve as your chaperone?" Snape asked, lifting an eyebrow ironically.

Ugh. Harry did not need to contemplate what Snape was implying.

"He's as ignorant as I am," Hermione spat back, stomping on the floor, "If you value knowledge in the slightest, you'll give it to the both of us for a single, reasonable price." Hermione, who had been stalking around the desk, seemed to realize what she'd been doing - and to whom. A slight blush came over her face, as she stopped and said, "Professor Snape."

*Snape takes offense to thoughtless breaking of rules, particularly when bending said rules would have worked Far Better.

[a/n: this wasn't the difficult chapter. that'll be next time. Hermione is quite Gryffindor enough to forget who she's talking to, when she's mad enough.

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Nobody ever seems to use the "Hermione doing extra patrols" as a bribe for Snape. Idea's mine now!]